What should I bring on my off-roading adventure?

Preparing for Environment and Terrain

When planning your off-road adventure, consider the area you'll be exploring. Is it rocky, sandy or tree-covered? Is it in a particularly cold or hot climate? Is it isolated or near civilization? You should think about items that will come in handy -- or even save your life -- in the specific area you've chosen for your outdoor excursion.

  • For areas with heavy path debris -- an ax or bow saw and a tow strap
  • For open desert areas -- a dust mask and sunblock
  • For a warm climate -- sunblock, bug spray, a snake bite kit and plenty of water
  • For a cold climate -- an extra layer of clothing, an emergency space blanket, waterproof matches or a lighter for starting a fire, windshield scraper, and a pan for melting snow
  • For isolated areas -- an emergency flare and enough food and water to last each person in your party for a day or two
  • For areas with inclement weather -- a parka, a tarp and a spare change of dry clothes and gloves

Following these guidelines will help you prepare for most emergencies as you venture off road. However, you don't want to over-pack -- especially if you're traveling in a smaller or lighter vehicle. So when you're planning your trip, create a checklist of parts and supplies. Mark the list by what you know you will need, what you can do without and what's necessary in an emergency. This will help you better evaluate what's important to take with you.

When packing it all together, use travel and factory kits whenever possible. Buying preassembled first aid kits and toolkits, in particular, will save you space and time. Finally, be sure all of your equipment is strapped down safely with bungee cords so that your supplies won't fly out while you're off-roading.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • 21stCenturyAdventures.com. "Complete Winter Survival Kit." (Nov. 18, 2009)http://www.21stcenturyadventures.com/advice/lists/winterSurvivalChecklist.html
  • 4WheelDrive.About.com. "The Best 4x4 Off Road Travel Checklist." (Nov. 18, 2009) http://4wheeldrive.about.com/cs/checklists/a/aa121901a.htm
  • Idaho ATV Association. "ATV Carry List." (Nov. 18, 2009)http://www.idahoatv.org/Training%20Folder/ATV%20Carry%20List.pdf
  • Offroaders.com. "On and Off Road Driving Tips." (Nov. 18, 2009)http://www.offroaders.com/info/winterdriving.htm
  • RockCrawler.com. "Git Back: Making Sure You Have the Stuff to Get Back Home." (Nov. 18, 2009)http://rockcrawler.com/techreports/gitbackbox/index.asp